4 min read

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support For Freeing Zoo Elephants To Live On Sanctuary

<p><a class="checked-link" href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Elephants-OregonZoo.jpg">Wikimedia</a></p>

Animal welfare activists have long advocated for elephants held captive in zoos to be retired to sanctuaries that more closely resemble their natural habitat - but the idea is finally gaining more widespread support.

Following the premature death of an elephant at a zoo in Washington state last week, the Seattle Times published a scathing editorial labeling the animal's premature passing "tragic" and "preventable," attributable, perhaps, to the rigors of decades of captivity. Watoto, an African elephant, was only 45 years old when she fell ill and was euthanized at the Woodland Park Zoo; her species often lives to age 60 in the wild.

Two other elephants remain at the zoo, and there's talk of more being added, though Watoto's death has sparked a larger discussion about whether any should be there at all.

The Seattle Times has called upon the Woodland Park Zoo, and others throughout the region, to "get out of the elephant business." This isn't a kneejerk position, rather one that takes into account the fact that "growing evidence suggests that keeping the world's largest land mammals in confined spaces, in inappropriate climates, is harmful to their health."

Captive elephants are typically considered among the most appealing attractions at zoos across the country, which might make the newspaper's stance seem out of touch with popular opinion. But in an online poll published on Tuesday asking whether Woodland Park Zoo's remaining two elephants should remain there, or be moved to live out their days on a sanctuary, the results so far have been overwhelming.

As of 5:30 p.m. EST Tuesday, a whopping 1,607 votes have been cast in favor of moving the elephants, while only 148 are in support of keeping them at the zoo.

Click here to see the latest poll results or to add your vote.

While the poll is representative of a small sample size relating to a regional debate, it does hint that sentiments regarding holding large, intelligent animals captive may be changing more broadly.

[rebelmouse-campaign #FreeZooElephants title="Take a stand against elephant captivity. Tell the Woodland Park Zoo to free their elephants to a sanctuary." theme="sidebar" total="readers have spoken out." cta="Share Now" pastCta="Shared" sendButton="Share" why="Thanks for sharing! You can post more on The Dodo about why this issue matters to you." addPost="Post Now!" shareText="The @woodlandparkzoo should listen to the public and free their elephants to a sanctuary {{link}} #FreeZooElephants"]